Audi will compete in Formula 1 from 2026. As the manufacturer has now officially announced, its own hybrid drive unit is being developed for this purpose at Audi Sport’s Motorsport Competence Centre in Neuburg an der Donau. Around half of the power is to come from the electric motor.
The background to Audi’s entry into Formula 1 is the new engine regulations, which from 2026 will see a sharp increase in the proportion of electric power compared to current Formula 1 drives. According to a VW board decision, the new engine regulations were one of the prerequisites for the entry – if the regulations had remained constant, it would have been too time-consuming and probably above all too expensive for a newcomer to catch up with the existing manufacturers’ experience with the complex drive units.
“Motorsport is an integral part of Audi’s DNA,” says Audi CEO Markus Duesmann. “Formula 1 is both a global stage for our brand and a highly challenging development laboratory. The combination of high performance and competition is always a driver of innovation and technology transfer in our industry. With the new rules, now is the right time for us to get involved. After all, Formula 1 and Audi both pursue clear sustainability goals.”
According to Audi, the site in Neuburg an der Donau already has test benches for Formula 1 engines, high-performance electric motors and batteries. The necessary expansion in terms of personnel, buildings and technical infrastructure is currently being undertaken there, and all the essentials should be in place by the end of the year – at least that is what the manufacturer states in the press release. A separate company was recently founded for the power unit project as a subsidiary of Audi Sport.
The now announced Formula 1 entry is also accompanied by a renewed restructuring in the motorsport department. Julius Seebach, until now both Managing Director of Audi Sport and Head of Motorsport, will move from Audi Sport internally to Audi AG in Technical Development on 1 September. Seebach’s successor in Neuburg will be Rolf Michl, Chief Operating Officer Racing at Audi Sport since February. The new Formula 1 subsidiary will be headed by Adam Baker, who was employed by the world governing body FIA for three years before joining Audi in 2021.
It is not yet known which team will use the Audi power unit in Formula 1 from 2026. Audi wants to communicate this decision by the end of the year. The Sauber team from Switzerland, which currently competes as Alfa Romeo, has long been considered the favourite.
Porsche is also likely to enter Formula 1 from 2026. However, an official announcement on this has yet to be made. For Porsche, it will come down to a partnership with Red Bull.